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 GaDangme Land

On the southeastern coast of the Republic of Ghana between the Laloi Lagoon (east) and the Densu River (west), and just below the Akwapim Scarp (to the north), live the Ga people. In the six coastal towns --- Accra, Osu, La, Teshi, Nungua, and Tema --- they make their living primarily from fishing, which has increasingly become industrialized. Farming, including livestock grazing, is the principal occupation of the inland villages, each politically attached to one of the towns. The Ga land from its origins has been divided into 3 principal divisions
  1. Ga Mashi
  2. Dangme (to the east and north)
  3. Obutu or Awutu (to the west)

 



The origins of the Ga people are a subject of debate. Oral history indicates a great migration. It is generally believed that several Ga-speaking clans had settled in the current Greater Accra Region by 1275 AD. Since then, Gas have witnessed the growth of an urban industrial complex, including the operations of a national capital (Accra) and a major international harbor (Tema), on their traditional homeland.

Credit: GaDangme Heritage.org
Click map for larger image

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, they profited from the coastal trade in gold, palm oil and other commodities, yet continually faced military attacks by their imperial neighbors who preferred not to pay for access to the coast. During the 19th century their coastal location both yielded a diversified economy (farming and fishing) and rendered them vulnerable to capture in slave raids. Some of the first 20th century Ghanaians to receive Western education, Gas often found themselves excluded from the rewards of professional careers. Their contributions to national development remain substantial: women operate the bulk of the retail trade and men artisans build and maintain real property and much of the nation's infrastructure. Today the population of Ga is approximately 1.5 million in a nation of 19 million.

The Ga Mantse's (King) stool is a paramount stool of Ga proper. Directly under him are the seven divisional stools in Ga Mashi (Ga central) which are Gbese, Otublohum, Asere, Abola, Alata, Sempe, and Akanmaiadze. Six more surrounding suburban divisions are indirectly under him, which are Osu, Osu Alata, La , Teshi, Nungua and Tema.

The symbol of the Ga state is a small African Antelope (called Adowa in the Ga language) perched on the back of the elephant. This symbol is used atop a carved wooden staff carried by the Ga Mantse's linguist or Otsami. The Ga Mantse does not speak directly to the public; it is through his spokesman, the Otsami, that the Ga mantse's words reach the ears of his people. The feet of the adowa also decorate a hat worn by the Ga Mantse, who unlike other Ghanaian Paramount rulers, does not wear elaborate garments or heavy ornaments.

Traditionally, the Ga also believe in the human spirit, called Kla or Susuma which has continued existence long after the death of the physical body. A reverence therefore exists for the spirits of the deceased ancestors, who are remembered for what they accomplished in their lives. There is as in most traditional African societies, a great sense of continuity between the dead, the living, and those who are to come. The Ga also revere twins and triplets whom they consider to be special creations of the Almighty.

A distinctive feature of Ga music results from interaction with various African peoples, Europeans, and today, the world of cultures. Ga musical culture comprises categories of music that: 1) were originally created by the Ga, 2) were borrowed from others and refashioned into characteristically Ga expressions, and 3) stand as a product of a multidirectional flow of musical ideas. Together these processes have led to a rich kaleidoscope of music that spans the entire five hundred years of their life on the coast, beginning with the music that they brought from their previous home farther eastward, near Egypt, through present-day Benin, Nigeria.



Credit: GaDangme Heritage.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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